Oops We Did It Again | Hop, Skip & a Jump to Mackay

Last year our passage leaving Island Head Creek was one to remember. What started as no wind, quickly became 30 knots and 3 to 4 metre seas.

Good times.

This year, we left on a rising tide to clear the sand bars and had a forecast of 15-20 knots of wind. Great. Well… as it turns out. Not so great.

A bit of deja vu was coming our way.

Steep waves on the nose at the entrance made for an interesting escape. Not dangerous, but sloppy. Very sloppy. Tell you what, this stretch of the coast has not been kind to us. Wind against tide causes absolute chaos. So yep, it happened again.

Except this time the forecast wasn’t for 30 knots but mother nature thought we should experience it all again.

Basically we buckled in and pretty much surfed north.

Not exactly the relaxing passage we were after.

We were actually intending to go straight to the Percy Islands but our minds were very quickly changed. For the best I think because it meant we were back at Hexham Island.

In case you don’t remember… I freaking LOVE this island!

Flying Nimbus and her dishevelled crew needed the rest of the day to recover, but it wasn’t anything some banana and coconut pancakes couldn’t fix.

Hexham is such a little paradise. Not too many boats can fit in the protected anchorage but we were lucky to have it all to ourselves.

White sandy beach, green hills, clear water… you know, just the usual beautiful island stuff.

Obviously Nat caught us a coral trout for lunch and then we knocked some oysters off the rocks in proper island fashion.

We aren’t predictable at all are we?

Blissed out from the sunshine, we got together our haul and headed back to the boat for a feast!  

Beer battered trout bites, potato salad, green salad and beer steamed oysters. I just love food so much.

I bet Nathan wished I looked at him they way I look at potato salad.

Unfortunately all good things come to end. The thing was, we knew there was a fair bit of strong wind and rain coming. We had left Island Head hoping the forecast would be downgraded but it seemed it was still going to be a blustery and wet week. We decided rather than sit, miserable and trapped in an anchorage, we would head into Mackay. It would also give a chance to get a couple of parcels delivered and fix up some boat things – just for something different.

So we said farewell to Hexham and headed to Middle Percy Island. We even caught a mac tuna on the way. The damn things are everywhere and I don’t care what everyone says about them not being good eating. Soak them in a bit of soy sauce then dip in panko crumbs and sesame seeds, fry until golden and you have yourself a tasty treat.

I don’t think anyone would complain if I served them this for lunch.

Middle Percy was delightful as always but the next day we needed to continue on our way. Next stop, Digby Island!

Now this. This sail. Was a banger.

Pretty much flat water, music going, cruising along at 6 and a half knots. Loving life.

We even got a double whammy of spotty mackerels for lunch and dinner, then arrived to have the whole of Digby anchorage to ourselves. Tell you what, that is a pretty nice day.

Ahh we really should have appreciated that great day more. Our sail to Mackay was not quite the same. It started off alright as were protected a bit by the Islands but soon enough were in another sloppy, choppy mess.

Holy crap. What a hideous stretch of water.

It was like a washing machine, but filled with ships.

OK, don’t get me wrong, the ships were cool. But they certainly add an extra element of stress to the situation. Because this is a sugar cane area, the shipping activity is hectic. We had to pass through one of their large anchorages to get to the harbour entrance.

It was like a super intense game of chicken.

We were constantly scanning to make sure none of these beasts had started moving. God they are huge. Wouldn’t be a good time to get in their way.

Mackay marina on the other hand was not bad. Our stay was pretty uneventful as we patiently sat out all the wind and rain. At least it was a chance to top up on fresh fruit and veggies. We also watched some of those monster ships enter the harbour which was super impressive and I am pretty sure Nathan now wants to be a tug boat driver.

As good as it was, we didn’t plan on sticking around. Islands over marinas any day. Plus this next stretch of islands are new territory for us and we were pretty excited. First on the list are St Bees and Keswick. We have heard pretty mixed things so I wonder if it will be the right choice.

Until next time.



  • Geoff Palmer

    Thanks for your entertaining description of your adventure.. envy your catching and enjoying the fresh seafood.
    If you are still contemplating Keswick/St Bees, the only suitable Anchorage is in the passage between the islands. Bit tidal.
    If blowing, be better to go to Carlisle/Brampton north side where you would have better protection. Further on, Thomas Is is ideal if not blowing, but Shaw Island perfect if you have to sit out 20/30knots. Watch for evil Platypus Rock off Shaw Is. it was site of a cruising yacht striking/ sinking and drowning someone’s mother in ‘90’s… a marker is on it now. Cheers…and fair winds.

    • OnePartSandOnePartSea

      Hi Geoff, Glad to have you following along, hopefully we can help you relive some amazing memories. ???? These posts are a little behind as I write them as we go and post them when we have good enough phone reception. Thanks for the advice on the anchorages though- we actually stayed in the Keswick anchorage for a while and loved it. Would love to hear how you found cruising on your Endurance mono vs. the Seawind.. we often watch the cats in envy as we are rolling around out the back of the anchorage.???? Cheers, Kate and Nathan

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